Pop icon Kim Kardashian says she is “currently re-evaluating” her relationship with luxury fashion brand Balenciaga following public outrage over their new holiday campaign that featured “disturbing images” of children.
Kardashian made the announcement Sunday after the controversy first erupted during the Thanksgiving holiday when Balenciaga rolled out the campaign that showed young girls holding handbags shaped like teddy bears in fishnet tops and leather harnesses.
The plush bears also appeared to have battered eyes.
A second controversy erupted shortly afterward over another image on Balenciaga’s website of its “Hourglass” handbag, which included a hidden reference to a 2008 Supreme Court decision that ruled on the constitutionality of laws prohibiting the pandering of child pornography.
In response, Kardashian issued a statement Sunday on her Twitter page, saying she was “shaken by the disturbing images.”
She added: “The safety of children must be held with the highest regard and any attempts to normalize child abuse of any kind should have no place in our society — period.”
However, Kardashian stopped short of cutting ties with the brand, tweeting, “As for my future with Balenciaga, I am currently re-evaluating my relationship with the brand, basing it off their willingness to accept accountability for something that should have never happened to begin with — & the actions I am expecting to see them take to protect children.”
She appeared to acknowledge Balenciaga’s efforts to remove the campaigns and said she believes “they understand the seriousness of the issue and will take the necessary measures for this to never happen again.”
As of Monday morning, Kardashian was still featured on the brand’s website as part of its “Hourglass” campaign.
Balenciaga filed a lawsuit Friday against North Six, Inc. and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins, the creators of the initial campaign that drew controversy.
Citing images of legal documents from the United States v. Williams decision used in its “Toy Stories” holiday campaign, attorneys for Balenciaga said the company is seeking "redress for extensive damages defendants caused in connection with an advertising campaign Balenciaga hired them to produce,” according to The Washington Post.
Attorneys for the fashion house allege North Six and Des Jardins made a “malevolent or, at the very least, extraordinarily reckless” choice to place the Williams decision documents in the ad without informing Balenciaga.
Shot by National Geographic photographer Gabriele Galimberti, the “Toy Stories” campaign sparked outrage for featuring a young girl standing on a couch in front of several half-empty wine glass while holding a bag shaped as a plush bear, which was wearing sexually suggestive “bondage” apparel.
In response to the images, Balenciaga apologized and released a statement that read in part: "We sincerely apologize for any offense our holiday campaign may have caused. Our plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in this campaign.
"We have immediately removed the campaign from all platforms."
While Des Jardins has not commented on the suit, Galimberti issued a statement of her own after receiving what she says were “hundreds of hate mails and messages” in response to the campaign.
Galimberti wrote: “I am not in a position to comment [on] Balenciaga’s choices, but I must stress that I was not entitled in whatsoever manner to neither chose (sp) the products, nor the models, nor the combination of the same.
“As a photographer, I was only and solely requested to lit the given scene, and take the shots according to my signature style. As usual for a commercial shooting, the direction of the campaign and the choice of the objects displayed are not in the hands of the photographer.”
She also denied having any involvement “with the photo where a Supreme Court document appears,” adding, “That one was taken in another set by other people and was falsely associated with my photos.”
In October, the luxury brand also cut ties with Kardashian's ex-husband, Kanye West, after he made a series of controversial comments about Jewish people and other topics.
Ian M. Giatti is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.